WASHINGTON -- As a senior starting pitcher at Stanford in 2008, Erik Davis never felt a lack of confidence about leaving leads in the hands of his team's closer. When it was time for a save opportunity, the coaches simply would say, "Bring in the kid," and everyone knew what that meant.
"The kid" was a freshman by the name of Drew Storen. With Davis as the staff ace and Storen shutting the door, the Cardinal won 41 games, finished second in the Pac-10 and made a trip to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series.
"He was just a confident guy, as far as his abilities on the field. We trusted him so much," said Davis, who became Storen's teammate again on Saturday, when the Nationals called him up from Triple-A Syracuse.
"I never had any doubts about him being in the game. It actually was a relief because I knew he was going to come in and shut the other team down."
The dynamic between the two right-handers is a bit different now. Davis was moved to the bullpen last year, and Storen is in a setup role.
Beyond that, it's Storen who is the veteran, with 188 Major League appearances to his credit across four Major League seasons. Davis, a year older than Storen at age 26, made his debut on Sunday, striking out two in 1 2/3 scoreless innings at Atlanta.
"It's funny, because it's almost a role reversal now," Storen said. "He was a senior when I was a freshman, so he was one of the leaders on our pitching staff. I've always been a big fan of the way he pitches, and like the other day during his debut, it didn't surprise me to see his success in the way he attacked guys, because he kind of had a fearless attitude when he was out there."
Storen remembers a game from April 2008, when Davis gave up two runs in a complete-game victory over top-ranked Arizona State, whose lineup included future big leaguers Jason Kipnis, Ike Davis and Brett Wallace.
"He wasn't a real vocal guy -- just went about his business and the way he went out and attacked guys -- and his intensity on the mound, you looked up to it," Storen said. "That no-fear attitude, as a freshman, it was cool to see."
After that 2008 season, when Davis and Storen both were all-Pac 10 selections, their paths diverged. The Padres selected Davis in the 13th round of that summer's First-Year Player Draft. Storen pitched one more season for Stanford, then was a Nationals' first-round pick as a Draft-eligible sophomore in '09.
When Washington acquired Davis in March 2011, Storen was excited. Spring Training has given them a chance to catch up and play some golf together. Now they're back sharing a clubhouse, and once again, having Storen around brings Davis a sense of comfort.
"I think it'd be tough if I treated him poorly in college, but I think I was always nice to him," Davis said. "I'm a pretty shy and quiet guy to begin with, but he's been nothing but welcoming to me. … I'm lucky, on my first callup, to know a guy on the team well. That's kind of nice."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashinNats. Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @HitTheCutoff. Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.